Transparency is a word that’s been showing up lately in all sorts of places. Remember that acronym, WYSIWYG? It translates to “What You See Is What You Get.” We’re realizing all too often these days that what we see is NOT what we get. Sometimes, not even close. Transparency - true WYSIWYG - has become something we crave when so many things we thought we could count on have turned out to be misconceptions or out and out lies. We want to know who we can trust, what we can believe in.
Recently, a friend was explaining to a group of us why he ultimately left the ministry. As he was giving his reasons, I thought of several other friends I know who’ve been down the same path in other careers. It goes like this: You fulfill several roles as a person. A man can be a breadwinner, a husband, a father, a son, a brother – you get the idea. Likewise, a woman can be a breadwinner, a wife, a mom, a sister, etc. The problem comes when those roles clash and you have to pretend to be something, maybe many things, that aren’t really you.
With transparency, nothing is hidden, so untruths are clear to spot. The more you hide, the harder it gets to keep all your stories straight, only showing what you want to be seen. If you have to tell a lie to save your job or your marriage for instance, it’s imperative that you remember to whom you told what. One lie leads to another, and another, and pretty soon, you’ve woven an intricate web of pretense and deceit. It ultimately leads to becoming a person you aren’t comfortable with, because who you pretend to be is not authentically you. Paychecks and chocolate can soothe the conscience only so long.
But it’s not just about telling the truth with your words. It also means living the truth with your actions. Do you consistently try to remain transparent in all you do? Here’s an example. Suppose you send an email to a person, and you want two other people to be aware of the content. Do you openly copy the two extra people, even if you know the main recipient might be unhappy that you chose to share your communication? Or do you take the seemingly easy way out and blind copy the other two so the main recipient is unaware of the others? WYSIWYG, or at least it should be. Maybe it’s not the easy way, but it’s the simplest. And it’s the easiest on your conscience.
You may have heard about how I learned to follow related threads of personal stories to solve problems and help make important decisions. Chasing through stories may be helpful in identifying situations where you continually have had to do or say something that makes you uncomfortable. It upsets the WYSIWYG applecart. Be brave. Break the chain. (If you want to learn more about chasing through stories, you’re invited to check out my free video series on the power of story.)
No, I’m not advocating for telling everything you know, or verbalizing everything that pops into your head. You have to use discretion and common sense. But it seems like as you grow older, constructing a response to fit the circumstance becomes less important. Instead of wording something to create an impression, you tend to say what you actually think and feel. The results are that you’re able to live with yourself, sleep at night, and cut down on doctor’s visits.
You’ll also find that people begin to respect you more. If some people don’t appreciate your stand for a life of transparency, maybe you should search out those who live authentically and appreciate honesty in others. These kinds of people, jobs, and organizations are out there, looking for someone exactly like you. Taking a stand to live a happy, healthy, and more fulfilled life through transparency is a choice. Opportunities to make a stand arise every day, all day long. What will you choose?
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